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Transport ministry targets unruly PPV drivers

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Transport and Mining, Robert Montague, says the Government will be implementing a number of measures aimed at ensuring order on the nation’s roadways.

According to Montague “very soon” video surveillance will be utilised to nab people who disobey the road code.

In addition, an online page will be set up for members of the public to post photos and videos of unruly motorists, particularly operators of public passenger vehicles (PPV).

 “Upload your clips so that the Transport Authority can take the requisite actions,” he said.

 “These measures are not against the good taxi and bus drivers, it is against that one per cent that is problematic,” Montague noted, while calling on PPV drivers to help in ridding the system of those who have no intention of changing.

The minister was delivering the keynote address at the launch of the 2019 Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo held at his Maxfield Avenue offices in St Andrew yesterday.

He expressed sorrow at the mini bus crash in Portland on Monday (May 20), which took the life of a student and caused injuries to several others.

Montague commended members of the public and the police, who reportedly rushed to the scene and transported the injured school children to hospital.

He noted that the Transport Authority is rolling out a training programme for PPV drivers to ensure that people are “equipped for the task and can properly qualify for their badges and drive in the best interest of the public”.

Montague said that the ministry is committed to continuing interventions to enhance road safety and reduce crashes, which have taken the lives of 171 people since the start of the year and cost the country some $2 billion annually.

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PNP denies claims of shouting match at executive meeting

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — General Secretary of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Julian Robinson is refuting reports in sections of the media that last night’s meeting of the Executive Committee was characterised by tension and a shouting match between competing camps.

Robinson, in a statement this afternoon, made particular note of Nationwide News Network (NNN) saying the claims are “completely false”.

The general secretary also noted that there also claims that Party President, Dr Peter Phillips was in attendance, which is also false.

“Dr Phillips did not attend last night’s meeting as he had an engagement in his constituency and had asked to be excused.

“Nationwide News erroneously claimed that the meeting ended abruptly without a decision,” Robinson said, stressing that the meeting was adjourned appropriately and that there was no shouting match between anyone during the meeting or after the adjournment.

“We are very aware that there are elements in the media that would like to see an open brawl in the current context, between the contending sides, to enhance their news story but all such claims are false or fake.  The situation described by NNN is totally inaccurate – fake news,” he said.

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WHO offers global plan to fight superbugs

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Geneva, Switzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization (WHO) launched a global campaign Tuesday to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant germs through safer and more effective use of the life-saving drugs.

The UN health agency said it had developed a classification system listing which antibiotics to use for the most common infections and which for the most serious ones, which drugs should be available at all times, and which should be used as a last resort only.

The aim is to prevent antibiotic resistance, which happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, rendering minor injuries and common infections potentially deadly.

Such resistance can develop naturally, but overuse and misuse of the drugs dramatically speeds up the process.

“Antimicrobial resistance is an invisible pandemic,” WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines, Mariangela Simao, said in a statement.

“We are already starting to see signs of a post-antibiotic era, with the emergence of infections that are untreatable by all classes of antibiotics,” she said.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by defeating bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis.

But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them — turning into so-called “superbugs”.

– ‘Urgent’ health risk –

The WHO campaign pointed to numbers from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimating that some 2.4 million people could die over the next 30 years in Europe, North America and Australia due to superbug infections.

According to a recent report by the International Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, more than 50 percent of antibiotics in many countries are used inappropriately.

This includes antibiotics, which work only against bacterial infections, prescribed to treat viruses.

At the same time, many low- and middle-income countries see vast gaps in access to effective and appropriate antibiotics.

Nearly one million children die each year from pneumonia that could have been treated if they had access to antibiotics, WHO pointed out.

The UN health agency’s new classification, which it dubbed AWaRe, splits antibiotics into three categories: Access, Watch and Reserve.

The campaign aims to have drugs in the basic Access category make up at least 60 percent of total antibiotic consumption, while reducing use of drugs in the other categories, to be reserved for cases where other antibiotics have failed.

Using antibiotics in the Access group lowers the risk of resistance because they are so-called “narrow-spectrum” drugs, meaning they target a specific bacteria rather than several, the WHO explained.

They are also less costly, it said.

But the body warned that only 65 countries in the world collect data on their antibiotic use, and fewer than half of those — almost all in Europe — meet the 60-percent goal.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the most urgent health risks of our time and threatens to undo a century of medical progress,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Tuesday’s statement.

“All countries must strike a balance between ensuring access to life-saving antibiotics and slowing drug resistance by reserving the use of some antibiotics for the hardest-to-treat infections,” he said.

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Overcrowding and abuse

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TAPACHULA, Mexico (AP) — The 36-year-old Cuban mechanic’s eyes glazed over as he recalled his time at the Siglo XXI holding facility: 50 people sleeping in 9-by-12-foot pens, faeces overflowing the latrines, food and water always scarce.Women slept in hallways or in the dining hall among rats, cockroaches and pigeon droppings, as children wailed, mothers reused diapers and guards treated everyone with contempt.

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